Security Technology Executive: “RMR: Not Just for Your Daddy’s Burglar Alarm Business”

The benefits of the changing technology landscape impact both installers and end-users

By Matthew Ladd, The Protection Bureau

Not long ago, it was common for security pros to associate recurring monthly revenue (RMR) only with the burglar and fire alarm industries. Companies offering the installa¬tion of those systems could reap the financial benefits of monthly fees for alarm monitoring.

Whether installers chose to operate their own central station or outsource that service would deter¬mine how much money would wind up in their pockets each month. For the security install¬er, tapping into a monthly recurring revenue stream provided financial stability.

Today, the security industry has gone through numerous changes on the technology front, with the introduction of IP-based cameras, enter¬prise-level access control systems and mobile apps, to name a few. As a result, there are more opportunities than ever before for security installers, and now systems integrators, to offer monthly services that can provide a financial gain each month.

Interactive Services
One growing service area in the security industry is the interactive services market. This service can be best described as a security dispatch center having the ability to provide direct communication and connection to the customer on many different levels.

With that type of connection, possibilities abound as to how the security installer can leverage that connectivity. For customers with an access control system, a central station operator can act like a virtual doorman and interact with an individual who wants to gain access into a building. The central station operator, upon viewing who wants to gain access, can then remotely unlock a door to provide access.

This type of connectivity also enables a security install¬er to monitor the health of a specific security device. For example, if a customer has an IP camera system, the system can be set up for that particular device to send a signal back to the central station at predetermined times to indicate the camera is operating appropriately.

If the camera is unable to send a signal, it can show there is a problem and the security company can then dispatch a technician to initiate repair. The benefit here is that a problem with a device can be identified quickly, and not after an incident has occurred where a customer has tried to pull up video from a particular camera only to find that camera was not operating properly.

Video Alarm Verification
One of the hottest topics in the security industry is video monitoring and video verification. Many municipalities are requiring verification of alarms, meaning that if an intrusion system sends an alarm, the central station first needs to verify that it is legitimate using a method such as video, prior to contacting the police department.

Unlike the early days of alarm verification, where bandwidth availability and network capabilities were limited, and software to help manage such a service was in its infancy, video alarm verification is finally starting to take off. The growing use of alarm verification is the result of many towns and cities attempting to predetermine if an alarm is “real” before sending a police officer to a particular address to check out the situation.

By reviewing an alarm remotely, it can greatly reduce responses to false alarms. For example, in one case, a customer had 19 alarm signals in a single day. Using video alarm verification, a central station dispatcher was able to determine the alarm was caused by a storm setting off an outdoor motion detector. Without alarm verification, the central station would have called police immediately instead of determining it was a false alarm and police did not need to respond.

Cloud-Based Storage
Even though the security industry has not completely weighed in on the use of the “cloud,” this new capability to store video offsite has security installers and manufacturers talking.

However you look at it, security installers now have more opportunities today to grow their business. The introduction of new technologies has opened many doors for security companies to evolve from a more traditional contracting provider that only installs and services burglar alarms into becoming a technol¬ogy focused and profitable business with a sustainable monthly revenue stream. The time to look at these opportunities is now. We are no longer running our father’s burglar alarm business.

J. Matthew Ladd is the president and chief operating officer of The Protection Bureau, a CSAA FiveDiamond central station and security systems contracting company located in Exton, Pa., and a member of Security-Net, a network of some 22 independent companies located across the country.